FAQs About Good Posture
Get information on posture, how to check it, and how it is affected by phones, laptops, driving and other activities.
Should you be concerned about your posture? What about your kid’s posture? What actually is good posture? The chiropractors at our office have compiled a list of frequently asked questions related to posture along with answers and helpful suggestions. We find that these questions are especially relevant in today’s age of technology where so many people spend hours a day on their phones, at their computer, and using electronic tablets. It’s good if you have concerns about your posture because it shows that your health is important to you. Let’s see if we can answer some of your questions.
What is good posture? Good posture is when the skeleton is in the best possible position. The human skeleton acts as an important framework for the body. The position of the skeletal parts in relation to each other determines if posture is good or bad. When the bony structures of the body are lined up efficiently with weight distributed equally from side to side, the body has more strength and flexibility.
Why is it important to have proper posture? A person with proper posture moves better, has fewer aches and pains, and is able to enjoy many types of activities. When the body’s posture improves, so do many parts of the musculoskeletal system.
Can other people tell if I have poor posture? Yes, other people will notice that you have poor posture if they see your shoulders are slouched or your back is rounded. It looks unhealthy for you to sit slumped forward in your chair. Conversely, when you stand and sit with excellent posture, people view you as healthy.
Does poor posture negatively affect my health? Yes. When your body is slouched forward, it becomes more difficult to draw a deep breath. It also can inhibit or slow proper digestion. When your shoulders are rounded forward, this can lead to shoulder and neck strain. Poor posture when sitting can cause soreness and tightness in the muscles of the low back and hips.
Can bad posture cause headaches? Poor posture that causes the head to lean too far forward, and poor posture that straightens the curvature of the neck (causing the vertebrae in the neck to lose their normal curve) can most definitely cause headaches. Postural changes that harm the neck can cause swelling and irritation of the neck muscles, resulting in a tension headache. When the muscles along the upper neck and back of the skull become stiff or swollen, this can lead to a special type of headache known as an occipital headache (causing nerve irritation at the base of the head and possibly leading to a migraine).
How can a mattress affect my posture? Having a good, supportive mattress that protects your normal skeletal alignment while you sleep can go a long way toward preventing aches and pains. A good mattress will help you to maintain correct postural positioning all night long. It will prevent your spine from sagging or shifting. This can help you to wake up feeling rested and refreshed.
Can texting on my phone affect my posture? Activities done on your phone such as texting, playing games, and using apps that require both hands can affect your posture. The amount of time spent with your phone increases your risk of developing poor posture.
What is the best way to text on my phone so that I don’t develop poor posture? This is where proper ergonomics play a part. Try not to text while in bed. Stand or sit with your back straight and your phone level with your chest or higher. Don’t tilt your head down as you text. Try not to tuck your chin toward your chest while using your phone. Instead, attempt to keep your chin up a bit and your shoulders back. Often, the greatest risk to your posture is when you are texting while tired.
How can I use a mirror to check my posture? First, find a large mirror such a bathroom mirror or full length mirror. Next, stand while directly facing the mirror. Begin to take note of certain points on your body, especially your ears, shoulders, and hips. Is one of your ears higher than the other? Is one shoulder higher than the other? Is one hip higher than the other? These specific points of reference can show places where your skeleton isn’t symmetrical. If you are more than an inch different in any of these areas, you may be “leaning” toward having bad posture.
How can I check my kid’s posture? Checking your kid’s posture isn’t as difficult as you would think. First, observe your child or teen during their daily activities. Are they hunching over their electronic device? How do they sit at the table? How do they look when playing sports? Do their shoulders slouch forward? Is one of their shoulders lower than the other? If you notice that their shoulders aren’t symmetrical, their head tilts forward, or their shoulders are often rounded forward, your child most likely has poor posture that needs to be addressed. Simply telling them to, “Sit up straight,” may not work because they may have an underlying issue with the bones in their spine and skeleton. They may need to see a chiropractor who is experienced at working with children.
Can driving in the car affect my posture? Yes, driving in your car, especially for long-distance commutes, can over time cause bad posture. This is especially true if your driving position is incorrect. It is important to use an ergonomic driving position. If your seat doesn’t fit you properly, you may need to use a seat cushion designed for use in the car. Some steering wheels can tilt to a comfortable angle for the driver. If you spend too many hours a week in a vehicle that does not fit you properly, you risk damaging your posture. People who drive as a part of their vocation (such as bus drivers, truck drivers, and taxi drivers) are more at risk for posture related aches and pains.
How can using a laptop harm my posture? If the laptop is resting atop a desk, people usually have a more comfortable experience. However, when the laptop is situated on a person’s lap, there is a greater chance of a person developing poor posture over time. Many people have a tendency to hunch over their laptops when the laptop is resting on their lap. Any time a laptop is positioned on your lap, there is a natural tendency to lean your head forward with your chin down. This can cause a loss of the natural curvature of your neck vertebrae (neck bones) over time. When used correctly, a laptop stand can sometimes help improve ergonomics and enable you to maintain proper posture.
Will having poor posture affect my golf game / sport game? Yes, because poor posture often results in faulty biomechanics (your body isn’t moving correctly). When the spine and skeleton are not symmetrical and the joints are not lined up properly, your balance can suffer. You can also lose muscle strength and coordination. If your skeleton has shifted out of proper alignment to such a degree that the nerves have become irritated, you can also experience slower reaction times. This may be followed by a proprioceptive deficit (when the receptors inside your joints are unable to send correct information to the brain – resulting in clumsiness).
What stretches can I do at home to help improve my posture? One of the most important types of stretches are core stretches. Core strengthening over time will improve your balance and stability. This helps in maintaining proper posture.
How can improper posture affect my overall height? Height is greatly affected by the curvature of the spine. When your shoulders are hunched forward, or you begin to have sway back, this can compress the spine. This will result in not being at your full height potential. Some astronauts can grow as much as two inches taller in space. This is because the effects of gravity are reduced in space. Because astronauts are in reduced gravity settings, they don’t experience the effects of poor posture like we do on earth. This is why good posture is so important. When you have proper posture, your skeleton is able to stand straighter and more easily resist the downward pull of gravity. You become taller and healthier when you have correct posture.
What does it mean if one of my shoulders is lower than the other? One possible cause of this is that you have a lateral curvature of the spine (scoliosis). However, it is more likely that one of your shoulders is lower due to muscle spasms in your neck or upper back. Over time, this can cause a misalignment of the joints in the spine. The longer your skeleton remains in this position, the longer it will take to correct your posture.
What activities are the biggest risks to damaging my posture? Indoor and outdoor cycling are often the biggest sports activities that can damage your posture. This is because people who spend hours hunched over their computer, hunched over their phone, and then leaning forward on their bicycle, risk causing significant structural changes to their neck, shoulders, and spine. It is important to find recreational activities that reverse the effects of leaning forward for too long. Sports where the arms are moving and the head isn’t continually angled forward are healthier for people who spend a lot of time on the phone or computer.
How long does it take to correct poor posture? First, you need to determine how long it took to acquire the bad posture. If a person has had poor posture for ten or more years, it will take quite a bit of time to make significant positive changes. However, if you address the bad posture sooner (such as within a handful of months), then you will likely see improvement in only a couple months.
Because more and more people in the world today rely heavily on electronics, it’s no longer a matter of “if I get poor posture” but rather, “when I get poor posture.” It’s important to be able to objectively check your own posture in the mirror. It’s also useful to be able to notice the posture of friends and family members (especially young family members who are developing poor posture very early in life.)
When you recognize that you are having bad posture, schedule a visit with your chiropractor. Speak with your chiropractor and develop a plan to check your posture at intervals, so that it doesn’t develop into a serious problem. When you have good posture, you get more enjoyment out of life.